I knew Beryl as one of the founding members of West Cascade (before we named it that). We kept in contact for awhile, but it is a testament to her great character that I still remember her!
I am quite simply in shock. I was hoping to (shamefully) return a book I borrowed from Beryl some 15 years ago when I lived in Eugene and looked her up on the Internet to see if she was still in Eugene. We served together as co-presidents of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Beryl had a heart of gold. I just admired her so much - her enthusiasm, idealism, spirit of adventure... It doesn't seem possible or fair she is no longer on this earth. But I am sure she is some place better.
It is difficult for me to describe in English, not my mother language, my relationship with Beryl, apparently circumstantial and shallow but meaningful and influential. I met her during a bus ride through Patagonia, it was one of those wonderful surprises that life offers you from time to time. We talked non-stop during two hours and she ended up offering me her houses in Eugene and Harper’s Ferry. She also promised me a visit to Salamanca during her next trip to Europe…And she did it!! It was a short two days visit that we both enjoyed. What I thought was just a “travel talk” with an interesting woman in Patagonia became a friendship with a wonderful person that shared her life, her adventures, and her opinions with me. I keep all her e-mails and read them from time to time. Beryl left us too early but her spirit, her strength, her joy of living are still present in all the people that, like me, had the luck to know her even for a short period of her full and rich life.
It is February 1, 2008 and one year ago today, in the morning, Beryl passed away. She is missed by family, a world of correspondents, friends, lovers, acquaintances and some who never met her but knew of her through others and hoped to meet her someday. I think today there is a collective sigh and asking why so soon? We think Beryl had so much more to share with us all and accomplish in her life. I can’t help thinking that all around the world, we are bound together in our mourning and in our celebrating a life well lived. To honor Beryl, let’s take that collective energy and channel Beryl and go out and make a new friend or help an old friend or do an act of kindness or just be thoughtful and forgiving of each other and our enthusiasms. And then, let’s try and carry it on to the next day and the next and the next with Beryl in our hearts. Berylie-jon,
baamaane Khodaa, Khodaa haafez.
It is still very difficult for me to comprehend the fact that Beryl has gone from our lives. We shared so much with each other: Our Peace Corps training in Vermont, our adventures in Afghanistan, the many visits she made to us here in Germany, our visits with her in America, and the many emails we exchanged. Beryl was my main link with our Group as she always kept me informed as to what was going on, so that I never felt left out. She was truly the “Spirit” of our Group. I wish her Peace.
as one of Beryl's Peace Corps family I admit to a certain denial about her death; for I know she will call and say she is at the airport and to come get her; Beryl lived the values of peace through action; joining countries one person at a time; Berly, you will be missed.....
I knew Beryl many years ago when we lived at Wheeler. My husband, Lloyd, was the pastor at the Evangelical United Brethren Church there, and the Brinkmans were faithful members. I treasure many memories of times together there. Just a few thoughts on Beryl...She was her own person - didn't worry or care what others thought of her or what she did. She was always concerned about people who were hurting and didn't have enough to function well. She felt the needs of others but tried to do something about it - hence her involvement in the Peace Corps or similar groups who endeavored to raise the level of living to more than just living but helping others to learn how to better their own lives and the lives of others. Her wants were far less than the average person and she proved by her living that to share with others becomes a blessing not only to the receiver but to the giver as well. She truly lived her Christianity and was an example of Jesus' love. She will be greatly missed.....
I have no idea which word could explain,which word could be enough that how i miss you.but i know i will never ever will forget you.You are always in my life and you will be.I know you were very special person for my god and i believe good people leave this world very early.but i know your spirits will be shining till end of this world.
how i can forget all the moments we have spent together.how i can forget your laugfing blue eyes,and telling me the life with experience.I feel so lucky because to knowing you,i feel so lucky to share a life with you with all good memories.I love you so much and i will always be loving you.you are always in my prays and you will be.i know you are everywhere as a real angel now and i know still you want everybody in peace.I LOVE YOU SO MUCH HONEY.who ever know you here they still asking you and they still pray for you.they say what a special person she was having pray from all over the world.YOU DESERVE ALL THE BEST BE HAPPY THERE MY HONEY.YOU ARE A REAL AN ANGEL NOW.I AM MISSING YOU SO MUCH
I too am one of the members of that storied troop, the first Peace Corps Vaccinators of Afghanistan, and met Beryl in Peace Corps Training in Vermont. She became one of my closest friends in the training group, and, although I never actually worked with Beryl in Afghanistan, I remained in close touch with her and often visited her and her team during R&R's at their "6-Pack House" in Kabul. After our cathartic experience in Afghanistan, our paths separated. I married Bernhard Niemann, a member of the German Volunteer Svc. (the DED) and moved with him to Germany, where I have been ever since. Beryl had met Bernie at about the same time as I did and was witness to our stormy courtship. We continued to keep in touch by snail mail and an occasional long-distance telephone call when I was visiting my family in Richmond, Va. Great was my joy when Beryl announced at our PC reunion in Vermont that she was retiring and would be moving to Turkey - she now would be practically around the corner! During the years that followed, Beryl often stopped over at our home in the Rhineland (between Cologne and Duesseldorf) on her way from here to there, and we always enjoyed seeing her. My daughter Rebecca, now 22, has known and loved Beryl since she was in primary school, and our dog and three cats also seemed to enjoy her visits, sleeping on her bed when she was there. I was a little out of sorts when Beryl developed a penchant for South America, which meant that she would not be swinging by our place anymore, but of course she stopped by to see Rebecca while she was in Nicaragua. That was Beryl. I understand from Theresa Murphy Woll, another member of our group, that she had just returned from a sailing trip and was busy planning another journey at the time of her sudden and untimely death. It's hard to believe that she will not be stopping by to see us again. It was wonderful to have known her and to have had the privilege of being one of her "Esteemed Correspondents". We miss her and grieve with her family and many friends.
Well, we just celebrated Marko's graduation, as well we should have. It was still a festive event, despite Beryl's absence. However, her absence, to me, was very apparent. The reality hit me - Beryl was gone. Most likely, none of us would have been in Artis' back yard celebrating the accomplishments of Marko had it not been for our great friend Beryl. I'm sure she was there in spirit and she wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Always the diplomat. The ultimate diplomat. Many a policitian could have learned some valuable lessons from that girl. As I got to know Beryl over the years, I was proud and honored to be a friend. I was always relieved when she traveled to other cuntries, hoping that others would think we Americans were all like Beryl. ;-} I won't repeat what many others have said about how great she was - she was indeed all of that and more. I have never met another person that spoke so knowledgeably and well-informed about politics and a variety of other rather serious topics, only to turn around and begin talking about the latest episode of some trashy tv show which she was following. I had some hilarious discussions with Beryl around some of these shows. She was into it in a big way. I will miss her, but I am thankful she was a part of my life. People like that don't come along everyday. Thank you Beryl!
Big news! The Beryl Brinkman Memorial Fund totaled $4,280. Thank you to everyone for your donations. I just sent a check to Kathleen Rafiq's Wardak Projects in Afghanistan and will present Father Charles his half of the donations this weekend in Eugene at Marko's graduation party. Beryl and Artis Mary Spriggs had planned to surprise Marko for graduation and fly his brother over from Tanzania. Artis Mary followed through on their plans and Father Charles arrived on Saturday night. Marko was extremely surprised and very happy to see his brother once he got over the shock. We are missing Beryl not being part of the celebration, but feel her spirit is here and she's smiling....
It has now been over four months since Beryl passed away - I've found so much comfort in reading the entries in this guest book and in sharing with other friends memories of our dear friend, Beryl. I can't begin to convey just how much Beryl meant to me except to just say I loved her. She changed my life. Her friendship over the last 23 years was an amazing gift. We became friends while working for the Oregon State Scholarship Commission and a few years later, we became neighbors. Despite changes of jobs and retirement, our friendship only deepened. I miss her optimistic spirit, her sense of humor, her sense of adventure and her curry dinners, movie nights at the Bijou, sharing a glass of wine and hearing the "scoop" about everyone we know. She was the best listener I have ever met and like so many have said, she made you feel like you what you were saying, no matter how trivial, was the most important thing in the world. She had such respect for every person's thoughts and ideas. I will miss her every day of my life...
I tried to speak of you at your memorial in Eugene, but memories and loss overwhelmed me. I first met you when I was the PC recruiter at U of O in the early 80's. We spent the ensuing years doing PC things,parading in Eugene, cooking curry, trips to DC, and Berkeley , and you never gave up on me when it came to urging me to accompany you on all your other journeys. My family grew to include you in our hearts. Your travels became mine. Hors doerves at the Electric Station and movies at the Bijou had to do. West Cascade thrived and the National Conference bonded all of us together for the rest of our lives. Music, drumming, walking through our Eugene held us together and will never be forgotten. When I left Eugene to help my family farm in Idaho, you made it all the way here to see this beautiful land I love.You watched my children grow and became their friend. My son, Adrian, became a part of your family and now shares your home and memories, for which he is so grateful. Shine on, girl, I will always be looking for the next travel story and will have my curry ready for the next benefit dinner. Kwahari, tutaonana tana, Marsha Swartz and family
BERYL BRINKMAN IS GONE, SO BIG A LOSS!
She received me as a Fulbright Student from Tanzania, and was a foundation to my beginning of the M.A program at the University of Oregon. I can't understand that I will graduate with my M.A in Linguistics, in her absence. She always looked forward to seeing me graduate. This is one of the hardest moment in my life. She is the one who volunteered to host me, she introduced me to tons of friends from the first day of my arrival. I remember her, Kelcy, and Brendan waiting me at the Eugene Airport. It was 09/11/2004 as I flew from Portland to Eugene. No one knew another person between us. But they were holding a HUGE SIGN written in SWAHILI - "JAMBO MARKO" meaning hello Marko. I burst into tears from a distance! My other colleagues from other countries were surprised to see that. From that day I have been a friend to almost each of her friends. To name a few TRICIA, JEFF and KELCY; MICHAEL, RACHAEL, and LARY; DAVE, HANA and TRACY; JAMES CLOUTIER, DOROTH and PROF. SOPER, PATTI and WADE, WAYNE and WIFE, .......and of course ALL RETURNED PEACE CORPS of the WEST CASCADE. SHE DROVE TO PARTS OF CALIFORNIA, SHOWED ME PLACES AND FRIENDS. Our next plan was to drive to parts of WASHINGTON STATE
MY GOD, MISSING BERYL CAN BE COMPARED TO THE TIME IMMEDIATELY AFTER DEATH OF FOUNDER OF THE NATION, HIS EXCELLENCY, THE LATE MWALIMU JULIUS K. NYERERE. The nation was a bit shaken. Some people even thought there could be a state of instability, which has never been the case, and never will be, I hope.
The same way, this loss will be recovered by faith.
GOD BLESS BERYL, HER PARENTS, FAMILY, FRIENDS, HER TEACHERS, AND ALL PEOPLE OF PEACE AND LOVE IN THE WORLD. LONG LIVE EUGENE, LONG LIVE UNIVERSITY OF OREGON, AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.
Her card read: Beryl Brinkman - International Pursuits...Indeed she pursued to help out internationally. I remember the first time she wrote me an email. I was introduced to her through an acquaintance I met at a dinner party in Bucharest, Romania. Tim learned that I was going to Eugene on a Fulbright Program and right away, he said I need not worry at all about going to an unknown place, that he had a friend there who would receive me and help me out if needed. His words were truly consoling and I was amused by the warmth Beryl wrote to me; she said she would be there at the airport to receive me and whereas she and a friend would identify me as a foreigner easily, I could identify them by the BIG smiles they would be wearing. I thought that was so cute and from that day onwards it was like having an older sister who steered, guided and helped me when the occasion arose. Not only that, through Beryl I met wonderful people like Tricia, Dorothy and Professor Dave, and Sharon, Sherrill, the list goes on. When I was invited to Turkey to be on the jury of an international cartoon competition, we had the awesome opportunity to meet up. It was wonderful and as usual, she had her group of international friends. We had a rollicking time in a wayside cafe talking and cracking jokes, typical to our backgrounds. It was an example of Unity in Diversiy. Then Beryl on her international advenures decided to attend my daughter's wedding in Islamabad. She was accompanied by her friend Therese and it was so much fun because we had taken their dress sizes beforehand and had their Pakistani outfits ready for the wedding. The theme colour for the October wedding was acqua and Beryl looked very stunning in the outfit she got to wear at Nazish's wedding. At the Hina ceremony the two friends joined us for the dance and taught all the Pakistani youngsters how to do the traditional American dance (I forget the name, but it wasn't Square Dance). Everybody enjoyed the dance party and Beryl clicked away on the camera, capturing the wedding she came to attend all the way from the U.S. She made many friends here. I cannot forget the trip we made to Portland in her car. On the way we started playing a game. My husband being a diplomat, we decided to name a country we had visited in our past. We took turns, but Beryl outdid me by many countries when I ran out of names! Not only was she international in her travels, but she was a Sufi as well, always at hand to help out people regardless of colour and creed. I can see her smiling from above and nodding with a halo on her head..."that's what Peace on Earth is all about Nigar"...and I nod back...
I met Beryl in ’92 when I worked for the National Peace Corps Association and she was on the board of directors. I’m sure there were a lot of great people in that West Cascade RPCV group, but how many groups have you been part of with lots of great people that just withered because there was no spark plug to keep it going? Beryl was that spark plug. She made fun happen.
Beryl was a great leader. She denied it, of course. Academics have written reams about servant-leaders, but Beryl was the role model. She was too modest to take credit, but as I got to know her better, I could see how she just plunged in and made things happen.
She and I traveled in Oregon after I did a workshop there. She visited me in Michigan and I visited her in the much more exciting Turkey. What a great way to see a country: Beryl had done the leg work, made the friends, scoped out the bus routes, identified the good restaurants! It was a great trip—one I never would have made without her invitation.
She was a role model of fearlessness, too. Bus through the Middle East alone? No problem. Visit countries barely out of war? No big deal. Travel where you don’t speak the language? No sweat.
Beryl was the warp and woof in the web of life—Queen of Networking. We are held together by the tapestry she wove.
The last journey came too soon.
I met Beryl in 2000 when she came by my house to stay the night as part of the Peace Corps Hospitality network. She arrived carrying a bottle of wine. Unfortunately I had previous plans that night and only got to spend a few moments with her. Years later my husband and I stayed at her house in Eugene (she wasn't there but an Indian exchange student was!) I thoroughly enjoyed her travelogues and was so surprised to hear of her passing. And yet... I would love to go to the end of days like she did, having just returned from a marvelous trip with my brother and yet in my own home with other loved ones near me. Rest in peace, Beryl. I miss you already.
In September of 2006, I was invited to help celebrate my Uncle Loris' 95th birthday in Richland, Washington. I was told that some of my cousins would be there. I wouldn't have missed this for the world and was looking forward to re-connecting with cousins that I hadn't seen since the sixties. It was such a pleasure to see all of them and Beryl was a part of that group. We were only together for a few days, but it was wonderful. It was decided that we should refer to our small group of four as the B-Girls! That "B" was for Brinkman, but we would have loved other interpretations. I remember thinking that Beryl was an adventurer when she first went to Afghanistan. How right I was. How proud you all must be for having known and loved her. I only wish that we had kept in touch and that I would have been on the list of "esteemed correspondents" sooner and longer. She has indeed left her mark on the world
I am one of the vaccinators from Afghan 11. We will miss you at our 40tieth reunion this year but you will be with us in spirit.
You Go Girl
When I said this a couple of years ago to Beryl I wanted her to hit the road again, let the Eugene RPCVs find their way without her and set an example for those of us who try to lead volunteer groups - for too long sometimes. I first met Beryl at the 1986 Peace Corps Conference in Eugene; 20 years ago when the Idaho RPCVs were chartered as an affiliate group. During the first day's events the new groups were announced and welcomed to the National Council; Idaho's was the only one that received startled gasps, and then a rousing cheer of appreciation for our founding. We have been part of the Northwest groups that relied on Beryl as a representative, leader, and role model in all things Peace Corps. And we will honor her this year at our regional campout near Mt. St. Helens since that was her choice of campsite for our annual gathering, and she is sure to be missed.
I wish I would have had the opportunity to have met Beryl.
Being a very cool and talented person, her inspirations and experiences would have been great stories to listen too.
May God Bless you and your family.
I never met Beryl - I rented her shared cottage in Harper's Ferry one summer while I was student - but through phone conversations and her 'esteemed correspondents' emails, became enamored with the life of this truly unique and caring individual. I will always regret not meeting her before she passed but hope to carry a bit of her spirit with me as I make my way through life.
Beryl was a very special person who I admired greatly. I was inspired to visit Turkey because she was living there and that made it seem safe. When my traveling companion and I reached Antalya, where she was living, Beryl travled by bus across the city to collect us and made us feel very welcome.
We will miss the Dog Derby Races that she started after going to the horse races in the south a few years ago. Don and I grew the mint and were in charge of making the Mint Juleps. We all wore fancy hats. Last year, Beryl wore a floor lengh formal with a tag sticking out at her shoulder that indicated it was a vintage Goodwill store purchase, she looked splendid! Our new moto to live by is "What would Beryl do?"
I will always regret not answering
Beryl's call to join them as they travelled through South America a few years ago. It would have provided me a greater opportunity to know this remarkable woman.
She left her mark on the RPCV movement and that is an example for all of us. May she go in peace, as she is an example of that peace for all of us also to follow.
I am still stunned - having just learned that dear Beryl has left us... I think it was a the Berkeley RPCV national conference when we changed the name to National Peace Corps Assn. I treasured seeing her - all too rarely, but as one of the recipients of her "Esteemed Correspondents" emails - I traveled the world with her.
I'm sad I never got to Harpers' Ferry or Eugene when she was there.
The last time I saw Beryl was in 2002, when I was despondent as my beloved dad was critically ill - a few hours before he died, I was summoned from the CCU - told there was someone outside to see me.
Waiting for me with a huge hug was dear Beryl - who was heading back to Eugene from Pete & Susan's in Walnut Creek. She had gotten off the freeway, found the hospital and me. She was just what I needed at that moment - an angel on earth. I was always amazed at how many people Beryl collected, and how she kept in touch with all.
I will greatly miss those wonderful emails....and treasure those I have. How lucky we were to have you in our lives, Beryl...
WE have fond memories of growing up with Beryl in Wheeler and the many youth group activities. Lynn, please keep in touch.
Aunt Beryl was a great friend to so many. It is sad to know that she has taken her last journey. She certainly made the most of life when she was here with us all. We had been planning a trip to Cuba for this summer, she had been talking about planning her high school reunion as well as more functions with her Peace Corps friends. Yes, travelling the world, seeing friends and family and making the world a better place for others . . . that was what Beryl was all about.
She will be missed dearly.
We have lost a wonderful woman. I was with the Rpcv groupe in Eugene for a short while and admired her so much,
"Some people come into our lives and quickly go, some stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same."
All those whom you have touched will never be the same.
Beryl, this isn't the status story you always asked for. Sorry. Thanks for yours. I will try to live and teach my son to live with the same attitude, less the restlessness, now. I will continue to convince others to do the same things in your way, like it is always easier to do a kindness that way unto others than yourself. Thanks for that last visit. I am glad you have rest now.
The Bright Flame
comsumes its fuel quickly.
is brighter than ones own,
is nothing less
than the loss
My condolences and sympathy to the family and friends of Beryl Brinkman.
I met Beryl at an NPCA meeting, and saw her several times after that through Friends of Afghanistan. She visited me in Paris in 2005, and her delight in being there was contagious! We had a splended few days, and my friends were so awed by her..her spirit, her good works for Afghanistan, and of course, her genuine love of people.
I'll miss her; what a woman..what a life!
The world is different because of you. I will try and pattern my life after you. Just returned from Mali, West Africa. serving with Peace Corps from 2004 to 2006. I,m now age 70 years.
What can I say? We sreved on the NPCA National Board together. My deepest condolences to your family and loved ones. I always enjoyed our times together. I'm sure that where ever you are now, it is a better place with you there.
Peace and love,
Ulysses, Lisa and Jessica Hudson
Oh, one more word to encourage us all. Dear Pat Wand, PLEASE get that jacket out of the closet, finish it, and wear it with pride. It was very important to Beryl. I was almost enlisted to help get it adjusted and made. And to Sam, just keep on believing, like the rest of us who adored her, that her spirit will be around us always. She is home because she is in our hearts.
Love to everyone who has put his or her thought and love into this book.
Merilee Armstrong Bengtsson
I knew Beryl as a symbol of love and peace.I met her in Pakistan when she came to attend a wedding of my friend's daughter with Thresa.She wore Pakistani colourful wedding outfit and looked gorgeous .She was so interesting and easy to talk to that we made life long friends.Then she came to visit me in NC at my duaghter's house.We were really impressed by her traveling experience. I gave her a Kashmiri carpet sovenier.She loved it and went crazy and told me that she hung it on the wall in her house.It was hand made and she appreciated any good work .She wanted me to accompany her to Afghanistan last year but then she postponed it to March 2007.I was waiting for her in Pakistan but she went too far a away.Such adorable people who live in your heart are never far from you.She was a gem of a person.We will miss her forever especially her long traveling mails !
Beryl was a wonderful exemplar of the Peace Corps spirit. She was a citizen of the world but had deep roots in Oregon. At NPCA she popped in to volunteer for several weeks during a rare period of down time. Completely unpretentious and full of life, she will be greatly missed.
I have known Beryl Brinkman through Marko, my young brother, who lived with her until her final moment. We also exchanged emails in regular basis. The most important thing she did for us here in Tanzania, was raise some funds in August 2006 with her friends in the US. With the money we have been able to do a lot for orphan kids who go to school, seniors medication and of course a lot more. She had a plan to visit us in 2008 and, we wanted to show her what the money did while she would be with us. It's not easy to believe she's not alive. In faith, I believe that she's rested among the saints in heaven because of her love to others in this world, advocacy in peace and her humility, the rare qualities among many human persons in the globe we live. We have been and are still committed in prayers for her since her death to the present. Family and friends to Beryl, accept my condolences. God bless you.
I was a PCV (93-95) on Satawan Island, far off on Satawan Atoll in the Mortlock Islands in Chuuk State, Micronesia. I taught school with nothing. The field ship came very infrequently, but twice a box of school supplies and odds and ends came from Beryl. I don't know how she heard of me or knew that we had very little to work with, but I am forever grateful for those boxes.
Beryl was my college roommate at North Central College, Naperville, IL, and we have kept contact throughout the 46 years since she moved out in the world from there. Besides enjoying her flying visits on her way through Madison, I always was thrilled to receive travelogues from her visits to far-flung places, although I could never convince her that she could make a living writing travel books. She had just the right amount of personal anecdote, emotion, and factual information about the place to make you want to go and experience it yourself. She had this writing talent at least as far back as her college years. I treasure her letters from her summer working at a fancy resort and others from her early working days in Chicago after college.
I’ll never forget an early travel experience she wrote about shortly after college. She and her friends nearly ran out of money on the way back from a trip across the U.S. In a letter she related how they would stop in restaurants and surreptitiously snatch as many ketchup packets as they could. From them they would make tomato soup because they had to save all their money for gas. That and sugar were what they lived on for several days. I think it was on this same trip that a companion would seek out the jail in each town and ask to stay there because he couldn’t afford a motel room. I got the impression that Beryl slept in the car. At any rate, she was never at a loss for what to do when traveling.
Beryl made friends everywhere and, I think, almost invariably had excellent luck when meeting strangers. However, one time she ended up in the hospital getting her stomach pumped because the two guys who invited her to tea slipped drugs into the beverage. That incident never fazed Beryl. She continued to travel to many places that others might consider too dangerous, and she always had glowing reports about the wonderful, helpful, and interesting people she met.
One of Beryl’s best traits was her willingness to do a favor when asked. She came to my classroom on several occasions to talk about her travels. Once my high school class was reading an excerpt from The Odyssey. Beryl had just returned from Greece. During the question period, one of my students asked if Greece was a “sun burnt land,” a phrase from the translation. Beryl was able to elaborate on how that was true. But the biggest favor she did was scattering my ex-husband’s ashes in the Ganges River in India where she was traveling shortly after he died. It was a country he had always wanted to visit, and she made that possible in a way he would have surely appreciated. She sent back photos and a description of the event. That meant a lot to me and to his children.
Finally, I want to say that Beryl made me feel like one of the family. This started in our college years when she invited me to the family farm where I got to know her parents, her siblings, the sandy watermelon patch, the nearby river, and the outhouse. I really enjoyed her father Louis, who was a Civil War aficionado, and felt very honored when she asked me to be one of the musicians at his funeral. More recently, she invited me to her family reunions in Wisconsin where I got to meet her beloved nieces and nephews. She was so proud of the younger generation and always kept me abreast of their accomplishments.
I never dreamed that Beryl would be the first of my college friends to take “the last journey” because not only does she come from a long-lived family, but to me she was the epitome of a person so full of life and so tireless a traveler that death had to be beyond the far horizon. Like all the rest of you, I will miss the e-mails of her travels, the open invitation to visit her in Eugene, and the phone calls that will never more notify me that I’m about to see my friend.
Beryl entered my life in Eugene about 1983 and has been a major force every since. She had an uncanny ability to get me to do almost anything she decided was best for me. She convinced me to co-chair with her the symposium in Eugene to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Peace Corps in 1986, saying "You do all the organizing, Pat, I'll do all the leg work." What a team player.
Beryl provided leadership by empowering others through her unique method of quiet cheerleading. Her unconditional love radiated to everyone, making each of us feel as though we were her very best friend.
Over the years, Beryl and I met in Ecuador, DC, Harpers Ferry, Turkey, the Wilsonville truck stop on I-5 south of Portland, and no doubt other places I have forgotten. I'd stay with her and she'd stay with me. We'd pick up the conversation where we left off before.
I am grateful that she and I were able to talk by phone only hours before she died. During that conversation we talked about the jacket I was making her from a gorgeous tablecloth she bought in Syria and about her upcoming trip in March to Dubai and 5 other countries.
Through tearful eyes I have lovingly folded the jacket pieces and put them away in a box until she inspires me to complete the project for someone else. And as March comes and goes I dare say I'll be thinking of Beryl as she travels to those five countries, surely making Dubai her home base in the Middle East, just like we discussed.
Beryl is a treasure in my life. She was always there for me, and I knew it, even when she was a thousand miles away.
Beryl was among the very best people I have come to know and love in the RPCV community. I will miss her terribly.
She always came to the NPCA office with a smile, a big hug, and wonderful stories about her latest adventure. She rarely missed any RPCV gathering, and everyone knew her and loved her. Her life was full and rich, and she enriched everyone she touched.
Our beloved Beryl will never really be gone because she is in my heart and the hearts of thousands of people all over the world who called her friend or met her on a bus, a plane, in a shop somewhere down a cobbled alley where not a word of English was spoken, but that huge warm smile invited sharing and caring. I met Beryl in 1990 when I started working at the Oregon State Scholarship Commission. She, and the many FOB (friends of Beryl) at the Commish took me in and taught me so much about friendship, laughter, imagining and working for all sorts or greater good in the world.
Beryl was a most wonderful teacher. She taught by sharing her enthusiasm about all the many things she loved—traveling the world, working for peace, creating huge networks of friends by bringing people together for parties, potlucks, nights on the town. She taught me to love opera saying, “Oh, it has everything! Lights, costumes, scenery, wonderful music! You’ll love it!” And sure enough, I did. We enjoyed many operas over the years at Eugene’s Hult Center. Also breakfasts, lunches and dinners all over town. And movies—oh she loved good movies. She told me many times that we would travel together after I retired. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten there yet. But when I do travel, I always think of Beryl’s example of making friends everywhere.
She so valued her work with the local and national Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. I remember going shopping with her when she chose her dress to go to Washington DC as national vice president of the RPCVs. “You’ve got to help me find something to wear,” she said. “I don’t know anything about dresses!” She was SO excited and if I recall correctly, she met Donna Shalala, Madelaine Albright and Al Gore at a reception on that trip. It was a wonderful trip for her and I’m sure they found her as delightful as her many other admirers always have.
Since I can’t imagine the world, or the universe, without Beryl’s good will, I choose to think of her as traveling on some giant cosmic bus, bumping along among the stars and galaxies, smiling at every being she meets, human or otherwise. Making new friends, connecting everyone to everyone else through that little black book she always kept handy. “Where you headed?” Beryl would ask her fellow travelers. And wherever they were going, Beryl would likely have a contact to introduce them to.
Travel well, Beryl. Spread that beautiful smile everywhere. You were much loved and now you are much missed. Your physical heart may have given out, but your huge warm forever heart will always BE.
We almost missed our connection as Beryl drove back to Eugene. It worked out though and we met at my apartment for some tea, banana bread and good conversation. She left with a copy of my MA project. Beryl is the one who welcomed me to the West Cascades Returned Peace Corps Association, when I moved to Eugene for graduate school. She is the one who told me I was going to be on the board, convinced me it would be fun to march in the Eugene Celebration parade and man the booth for a couple hours. She was wonderful to be around, encouraging and inspiring, and I'll miss driving up to that amazingly colored house with its warm interior.
I first met Beryl about 20 years ago when I lived in Eugene and she came to a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer meeting held at my house. The rest is history!
I last talked with her New Year's Weekend. She was so excited about her upcoming trip. To be with her was to share in her excitement and her zest for life. I know Beryl would not want me to weep and be sad but I do feel a tremendous loss.
We have all been touched by her kindness, generosity and her constant giving of her life to others.
My favorite memory (and picture) of Beryl is one of her with that huge smile while sitting on my Harley.
Beryl became my aunt when I married her nephew, Zeus, last September. However, she became my friend long before that, from the first time that I met her in Harper’s Ferry in 2003. I found a kindred spirit in Beryl - from her Peace Corps service (I in Mali and she in Afghanistan) to her tremendous passion for travel and adventure. I so admired her gift of being able to connect with and bring people together in such meaningful ways. She envisioned a better world and she did what she could to make it happen. She inspired in me a desire to get more involved and work harder to help create that better world for us all. Beryl, thank you for coming to our wedding and for bringing Althea and Marko, both whom I now consider friends (as well as all the wonderful people we met in Eugene). Thank you for your big smile, your warm hug, your wonderful stories and for your beautiful life. Going through some earlier emails, I found a wonderful saying by Mark Twain in the first line of Beryl’s “Trip to South America” travelogue: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
Beryl was one of the group of intrepid vaccinators who dared to visit the small villages of Afghanistan (1967-1969)to help eliminate smallpox there. As the wife of the PC Director,Ray Feichtmeir, I marvelled at their guts and gusto. They remained in contact with each other and kept in contact with me on their return to the U.S. Beryl would pay me a visit when she passed through San Francisco, and kept me in touch with her incredible pilgrimage by email. I never knew where the next message would come from. Beryl, will I hear from you again? Rachael Balyeat, San Francisco
I never met Beryl, never talked to her, never emailed her. And, yet, I feel fortunate to say that I knew something of her. My friend and colleague, Miriam Aiken, shared her travelogue with me. My reaction every time was that Beryl should write a book about her adventures. Last weekend I was reviewing some notes I had about Albania in 2001 and found two notes from Beryl there.
I feel a sense of loss that she is gone. The world suffers from having too few people like her. I am confident that the work she did will live on through her family and many friends.
Beryl was my co-worker in Afghanistan, my housemate, my friend, a traveling buddy, my SCRABBLE buddy and teacher, and an inspiration to live life to the fullest with kindness and patience. She still had so much to teach and share. I am trying to follow her example and seek to know no stranger and offer the hand of friendship to those I meet. Beryl was a chosen sister in my family of friends. Gosh, I miss her physical presence, but feel she travels with me in my heart.
Beryl and I did the craziest things about thirty years ago, because we were always thinking about ways to make money and be resourceful. For example, we had the most unusual garage sales, like the one for home fixer-upers, then advertised them through huge signs placed on her pickup at the Albertson's. Those signs really dragged them in. More than anything else, we always knew we had one thing in common: itchy feet. We loved to watch anyone's slide show, and shared photos of places we'd been. I loved hearing stories about her friends and family, and her travels. I was hard to keep all the details straight, but I enjoyed every minute of our relationship. Like everyone else, we kept in touch by e-mail at home in Mukilteo or while Bob and I were on our own adventures. I'll miss her e-mail journals and phone calls to say she was driving through and would stop for a visit. I'll miss my drop-in visits to Eugene.
Friends are our family. She was absolutely part of mine.
Peace, Merilee Armstrong Bengtsson
I knew Beryl from her many visits to Istanbul. MY place was where she often lit on her way to other places in Turkey and to farther places such as Afghanistan. I always admired her spirit and envied her travels. I am sure she is still travelling and making good friends wherever she is now. what a great model for the rest of us!
Beryl and I worked together at Department of Justice, Support Enforcement Division in Eugene in the late 70s. We had a basketball team, ski trips, millions of parties and potlucks, and most wonderfully, she would host Afghan dinners where we would all sit on the floor and eat delicious exotic foods. She was amazingly ageless, being young for all thirty years I've known her. Just last week I was telling a friend how I was awaiting Beryl's memoirs (sigh), and another friend whose son is contemplating the Peace Corps, how much it meant to Beryl. She touched my life in so many ways and stayed in touch all these years. Just as Charlotte (the original webmaster) was both a good friend and a good writer, so was Beryl. It's so rare to meet one who is both. I'm not ready to say goodbye.
A Role Model and a Dear Friend:
We knew Beryl for almost 20 years through the RPCV world — from national conferences in Eugene and Berkeley, on the NPCA board together, and through the group leaders network. We shared a lot of laughs and meaningful conversations.
A call, a visit, an e-mail from Beryl always brought excitement and anticipation – where was she now? What new cast of friends had she met? We lived vicariously through her adventures, and we had the wonderful opportunity of visiting her in Turkey.
Her last visit with us was 2 weeks before she died – in a new car (not a pickup) and headed for a cruise (not a bus trip or flight). She was full of talk of future plans — a trip to Afghanistan, Turkey, … Washington DC, and Wisconsin for her 50th high school reunion — as we ate Mexican food and watched her beloved “Ducks” defeat Stanford. She always left us with “When are you coming to Eugene?” – “Soon,” we always said.
We are so glad that she stopped in Walnut Creek and so thankful that she was part of our lives! She is a role model of how to live life – with travel, friends, laughter.
Over the last few days, as we think of Beryl, it brings tears and smiles.
Susan Neyer and Pete Johnson
Beryl was a rare woman, combining her love for people and service with her love of travel. We meet years ago through mutual Peace Corps Afghanistan friends in Eugene. Since then, we have been to conferences together, exchanged house visits, and correspondence. She attended the Afghanistan Peace Corps Reunion 2000 in Trinidad, which my husband and I hosted. Beryl and I had plans to attend the upcoming reunion in Asilomar together. Her absence will be keenly felt, but her spirit and model of service will always be with us.
Beryl was a bright light and great spirit in the National Peace Corps Assn. and Cascade RPCVs. She helped make the world a much better place for those who have so little, and she enriched the hearts of all of us who knew her. We will miss her.
I was Beryl's favorite person on earth, I am quite sure, becuase of how she has always treated me personally over the past 37 years. Although I suppose others may feel that way. As much as she travelled, she was always close at hand. It never seemed like she was gone. I refuse to believe that that will change. Hurry home, Beryl. love /sam/
I am so grateful to have known Beryl. To see a woman blossom in her twenties, and then to blossom more, and garden more, encouraging others to take that chance--that's magic. In Beryl's honour, let us live--beautifully, extravagantly. Peace.
I met Beryl and a bunch of other vaccinators in Afghanistan while we were both in the Peace Corps. PC-50 and the Six Pack houses were our havens when we came to Kabul. Beryl has always been the node through which many of us maintained some contact over the years. Beryl has always been one of my best and longest lasting friends. Beryl was one of the most intrepid and bravest people I have ever known. She was among the most generous and open people I have ever known. I count it a great blessing that Beryl Brinkman was a part of my life. We will miss her.
We knew Beryl in Kabul when she was a vaccinator, then lost contact and re-connected a few years ago in the SF Airport (of course) after flying in from Cairo. Her spirit lives and continues to delight and inspire!
I met Beryl over the phone when I worked at the Oregon Dept of Justice and she worked for the State Scholarship Commission. That agency was one of our clients and Beryl was one of my contact from that Agency who would send me work to perform for the agency. Typically post judgment collection. We bacame friends over the phone. When she had a party at her house one day she invited me and I went down to Eugene from Salem to visit and meet more folks from that agency. Beryl also knew I was from Cuba and she wanted to go there. Last email I got from her was that she was planning a trip to Cuba and wanted information. I told her I wanted to move to Spain after my retirement and right before she died I got another email from her asking to hurry up and retire so she can visit me in Spain.
I will miss her.
I have known Beryl for over 30 years. I was a visitor and was visited by her. The last time I saw her was a little over a year ago, Whenever we meet the conversation just continued. A unique and rare to find friend. I will miss her greatly.
I only just met Beryl in the last couple of years, through Nigar Nazar, a woman cartoonist of Pakistan. But sitting with her, having tea, looking at pictures from her latest trip, I knew that, if I had life to live over and not be me, I'd like to be Beryl.
What a spirit.
Beryl was my aunt (I'm her brother Lynn's daughter). We played many a heated game of Scrabble, and filled out the New York Times crossword together many times. Beryl was responsible for getting over 50 assorted brinkmans and friends together for a reunion 2 years ago, and I'm so glad she did! She was a real inspiration to me in her humble, totally nonjudgemental way, and a role model to me as a world traveler with no kids. I will miss her a lot but I'm very glad she died as she lived, traveling and having fun!
I hadn't seen Beryl for several years, but as I thought back to conversations I had with her or listened to her speak with other people, I rememberd her gentleness, tolerance, intelligence and good humor. She was a special person as all of her friends know.
She will be greatly missed.
Beryl was a joy to know, truly a free spirit! Talented, kind, caring and giving, Beryl's legacy is her love of people of all kinds!
Beryl was a light in a world of darkness. Her smile was as much as part of her as were nose and eyes. The anticipation of a message addressed to Esteemed Correspondents was always fulfilled. Thanks to the gods who put her in our lives.
It was a big personal irreplaceable loss for myself of a person who I had honour to be a friend of...
God Bless Her Soul for all her Great Life.
Thanks for: teaching me to live large, to run away from home, sharing your 'luxury' apartment in Istanbul, dragging me to D.C. to sleep on the floor of your friends' houses and to Richmond to meet your rock-star niece, inviting me to Peace Corps stuff, introducing me to some of your 1,000 friends, hosting the Beat Party, the 70's party, the party-just-to-have-a-party, the lunches at Red Lobster, McGrath's, movies at the Bijou, lady Duck basketball, wine-at-nine-at-eight, showing me your dollhouse in Harper's Ferry, pushing me up on that rock once stood on by Thomas Jefferson so that I, too, could see the view he saw of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, reminding me to read Molly Ivins and the funny papers, introducing me to your dad, and for listening when I needed a friend. I'll miss you every day, but especially on August 4th from now until we get together for the Next Big Thing. Love from your 'twin', SK
Beryl was one of the first people I met in Eugene when I moved here in 2002 after serving in Peace Corps/Romania. She invited me to a West Cascade Peace Corps Association potluck at her house (one of many she hosted). She introduced me to everyone there and invited me to talk about my Peace Corps experience...something so important when one first returns. Beryl was always so encouraging and generous. So open-minded and genuine. Beryl had a knack for getting people involved and keeping everyone engaged. Thank you, Beryl, for everything you did in this world. It is a better place because of you.
My absolute pleasure to have known Beryl for the past 23 years. She was such a unique person, connecting diverse folks from every part of the globe to one another, working for causes in which she believed, and putting her money and time where her heart was: helping those less fortunate. A true inspiration to all who knew her. May we all keep her in our hearts forever.
Beryl was one of the gentlest people I have ever met, but she could be a tiger in the stands at Duck games. We worked together for many years for the State. I will miss her terribly. I will never forget her.
To me, Beryl was bigger than life itself. Her web address said it all: bigplanet. This planet is a lot better off due to Beryl's brief time on it. Just think of what a great country this would be if there were people running it with Beryl's innate ability to cross all cultural boundaries and forge everlasting bonds with an immeasureable number of people.
In My Pocket
I have memories in my pocket.
They rattle among the change.
My memories of you are treasures I carry wherever I go.
They are stored in bits and pieces, parts of a beautiful whole
They give me comfort when I think I am alone.
Yes, I have memories in my pocket, like so much other stuff I keep there.
But of all the treasures I have, it’s the memories of you that are the most precious.
Beryly Girl! Beryl was an inspiration to everyone who was fortunate enough to have crossed her path. She was one of my favorite people. She lived life to the fullest and I would enjoy so much her "travelogues" she was so generous to send us. I love you Beryl and I know you are embarking on the most wonderful adventure you have ever had!
Beryl was an incredible woman who inspired me to try to achieve more than I ever knew was possible. Her love of people, travel, and life in general always amazed me. She leaves behind hundreds of friends around the world whose lives were enriched by knowing her. She will always live on in my heart.